Monday, September 29, 2008
1. Generally rooms here don't have lock. Not even the toilets. Which is really odd. In fact at a particular house I visited, the master bedroom's bathroom does not even have a door!
2. Toilet papers are imprinted with some sort of design. It's not plain white. It's covered with quite design. Makes it harder to wipe your ass with it.
3. Pets here have higher priority in the sight of law than adult man and woman. Senior citizen and children are top in the list. Man are just last. Yea, I'm considered below pets here.
4. People here are simply crazy about the Australian Football League (AFL). Two days ago Geelong's "Cats" battled it out with Hawthorn's "Hawks" at the final level. And literally everyone was talking about it - between strangers even. Ad asks for the score as well. Geelong lost btw.
5. Trams are really big part of the city - a major form of public transportation. So much so that cars have to know the 'hook turn' (video in flickr later). That's when you keep left to turn right. This so to give way to the tram tracks. But imagine the frustration you'll give to people who kept left to turn left! And bicycles are given special lanes.
6. Strangers are polite to each other. They not only smile or greet, but starting a small chat is not uncommon. In fact every over-the-counter person asks you how you are doing or something like that. I guess people are less reserved here?
7. The air is so bitter cold and dry that you can't tell if your shirt is wet or just cold. After I wet my shoes on the beach, I had no idea if it had dry or was still wet but cold. Can you die from pneumonia from that? Your skin dries up and tingles because of the lack of moisture. Lotion is important to keep your skin alive.
8. Christina say people cook home a lot, make their own clothes and build their own house. You buy your raw materials and you make yourself. DIY is huger here. You buy your land, hirer your own contractor, choose your own design. Four months later after the house is up, you continue to build your own fence, garden, veranda and so on. And all these because service is so very expensive that you just had to learn to DIY.
9. Traffic laws are very very strict. There are cameras everywhere and summon comes within two weeks. Speed limit is way lower than Malaysia. Cars are installed with a thing to beep when you are above the set speed limit - to warn you. Most Malaysians would have failed their driving test here at least once.
10. Young children are expected to be put to bed by 8.30pm. After all, everything outside is dead after that time and TV is not for general viewing. Although Christina puts them in a little later than that for obvious reasons. And as much as canning children can be reported as abuse, Asian parents apparently still do.
11. Pizza has ham and bacon. That's pork! And the burgers and the meat platters. Yum!
12. Food stuff is kept in a closet like thing that I called larder (according to Enid Blyton's books) and I find it so cool to have one.
Note: I have pictures but since David wants to use his computer to work. I need to go off now and add them when I arrive in Brisbane on Wed/Thurs.
Next: Day Out in Melbourne
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Saturday, September 27, 2008
Ad pointing at the place we stopped for a toilet break. You can see Geelong (where we came from) and Port Campbell (where we're headed) on the map. If you went down the entire Great Ocean Road which is along the shoreline (red on the map), it would have taken 6hours to arrive at Port Campbell.
So we took a short cut - a 2 hour drive with farms for scenery... the entire way. Grass... grass.... cow... horse... flower.... grass... grass... cow... At least I had the kids to entertain me. Grass can't get any more interesting after 20minutes.
We stopped for beachplay and lunch at a small town along the Great Ocean Road. While everyone else busied themselves with scenery taking, the kids took the the sand and sea. Smart kids. Eddy said I had to try fish and chips. They do not use Dory but some other fish which escapes my mind right now. How was it? The portion was humongous and the fish so fresh.
This is Lock Ard Gorge where some survivors of some ship wreck was found here and somehow made this place famous? I'm not sure. We walked down the stairs to the shore and a gaping cave at the bottom. The wall of the rocks are quite unique.
Further down the road we come to something called the London Bridge. As you can clearly see why. I'm not sure how the rock formed in that manner but it's so cute. The wind in this area is so strong you could freeze. Well I could. I said could.
And suddenly, to my utmost horror and worst of nightmares.... my camera battery pack died! Oh Nooooooo..... This could NOT be happening. I should not have assumed! We had not even reached the 12 Apostles. How very very ironic this was turning out to be. But thank the good Lord that Eddy had colleagues who all had cameras, two had DSLRs. So I very shy-ly asked for a copy of all his scenic pictures. Better yet, just burn everything. The pictures below are lifted from the net.
I had expected the Twelve Apostle to at least have 12 gigantic stones coming out of the sea. But this was all that we see. Eddy said the broken one was Judas and the fat one is Peter. Don't ask me why. And so here it is... the postcard moment.
However, walking THAT much and freezing from the strong wind, I must say, was worth it. The sight was majestic to behold. The greatness of the God's workmanship on the earth surface was more than words can say. The grandeur holds you at awe. 7year old Nat asked why I liked nature. I told him it was to witness God's creation and say 'wow God, You are amazing!' And He really is. Why do people travel all the way to see things like this? Cos it was more than any human heart could swallow - the handiwork of His masterpiece.
After that it was back to Geelong...
As for dinner, we entered a small noodle shop (which Eddy and Christina claim cannot be compared with anything in Malaysia but beggars cannot be choosers). Udon something. At least I still had my fill of Chinese cuisine to keep me alive. In fact... I've been eating mostly Asian food here... hmm..
Next: Facts or FIction
Geelong is a rather small town, quaint and spacious, an hour's drive from Melbourne city. There are no terrace and every house or building is unique all on its own. It was almost like seeing many cottages in a crowded countryside where green was everywhere. Dogs were not jus caged pets, and people lay everywhere as though there was not a care in the world. Signboards were not impressively designed and the sky was so high. All these give the impression of space and quiet serenity. Eddy and family stays in an old but very quaint cottage-like house which I find quite fascinating. The guestroom was upstairs while the rest lived downstairs through a small corrider alleyway.
This is my room. The only ventilation came from this window with a netting for the bugs. You can roughly see a backyard with a broken down but classic looking veranda. They children didn't take long before they were bouncing on my bed and introducing me to every part of the room.
Though I was pretty lack of sleep and tired from the long journey but this was my first day in Geelong and time shall not be wasted! There was a waterfront that I had to see, says Christina. Since she was the expert, it was there that we headed. The Doulus was docked at Cunningham pier - the pier we visited. We took a slow long walk down the shoreline - from piers to beaches to parks to fairs and all the way down to the promenade where people could swim in an enclosed part of the sea and where every plank was donated by someone in the town of Geelong (all the planked were engraved with names).
I have so many beautiful pictures of Waterfront but uploading here is pretty slow. I really wish to show you some of these pictures - it is in my terms serenely beautiful. I'll try to upload all my pictures on my Flickr when I'm in the city the next 2-3days if time allows it. People there seem to have a craze for something called the Bolok - timber carved and painted to look like human characters. And this, 4year old Ad absolutely had a fad for and had to greet each one with her golden touch.
We head home so that I had time to rest a.k.a. sleep, and prepare myself for the youth service. As adviced by ETC, I sat at the floor of my bed and asked that God would use my lips for Him - whatever He may choose to say I willingly lay everything down that to be an instrument of His. And with that we headed for youth service - Igniterz, they call themselves. It was a young youth group, the size of a cell group. The entire youth group (except for one), made up the worship team.
I went up a little uncertain to speak. As I had already surrendered myself to the Almighty, I began to share my heart to them - to tell the story and greatness of our Almighty whom I love. I had the priviledge to pray for a few of them whom I sensed a deep love and growing hunger for Jesus. There was no great revival that night but I believe that God had used me. Although I felt like crap after it and could have done better, He assured me that it's not about what happened but about what He was doing. He showed me that like a seed, it needed time to germinate and grow. It was not about me, it was about Him. And so I rested in the Sovereign God, knowing that He will not allow His Word to fall on the ground.
Did I mention that I had pork in my pizza for lunch?
...to be continued...
Next: The 12 Apostle that was not
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And so I arrived at the airport and methodically checked in. At the appointed time I bid my farewells and head through the gates. As I arrive at the bottom of the escalator and stare at the wide expanse of space and the long row of auto-gates, my heart jumped. I was going to Australia!! My heart is finally gripping the fact. The fear and uncertainty of my 16year old past lept in and threaten to break the security and confidence that I had learnt to build for myself. No! I reminded myself. I'm not going to be afraid.
I walked through the gates and into the connecting train that brought us to the next terminal. It felt a tad bit lonely with so many other people traveling in packs. And that was when I realized my gate number was missing. After studying all the signs I realized that my gate was a new extension way back at the original terminal. *a moment to sweat* So there I was hopping back on the next train back to the terminal. I hope no one is observing me. It didn't take long after that to find my gate and board myself.
I did not get to choose my seat as the flight was very pack. I was placed right in the middle seat of the airplane - not a very favorable seat at all. But at least if the plane broke into half I'll be quite safe. I felt small and intimidated with having confident people who seem like frequent flyers on both my sides. Upon seating themselves they ritually prepared themselves - my right put lotion and tucked themselves snugly in to sleep, my left read their newspapers and plugged their music in... I could not figure out how to move my chair... I was missed by the airhostess a couple of time and I did not press to get what I want. The row-mate seemed quite hostile. Fortunately the big man on my left was a little more kindly towards me (i.e. switched his orange juice with me when the air hostess got it wrong) although on one occasion I think he smoked in the toilet. Smelt cigerattes.
It was torture to sleep while trying not to take up too much space or offend the space of my neighbours. The front seat pushed her chair all the way back and the back seat propped his feet up against my seat. I felt squashed. *squirms* Slanting my head to the right, and then to my left. The lady on my right slept peacefully upright almost the entire journey. How does she DO that? Time was dragging by. I can't sleep, I can't watch movie with the tv so close to my face, dare not on the light to read my book. Grr...
After what seemed like forever, one and a half movie, 2 chapters of Sense and Sensibility, no wine, and the worst back ache (that increased in pain the next day), we touched down at Melbourne Tullamarine airport at 9.20am. Weather was reported to be 16degrees outside and predicted to be sunny all day. Because of renovations we were guided outside, packed into buses and brought to the main terminal building. I stepped into the sun and felt peace. The heat of the sun and the chill of the wind immediately took any worry I had left. After the intensely long custom line (only 2 counters were open, and you thought Malaysians were bad), I was directed to yet another intensely long declaration line. Apparently the customs are very strict and everyone has something to declare. My fingers were red from dragging my bag every other minute a few steps. Finally my turn came to pour my things on the table. The extra polite and cheerful custom officer who talked to me like I was a teenager explained why he had to cut upon some of Aunty Pang's pack of chicken biscuits. Many people had passed me by as he sliced one packet after another. He jokingly showed his colleagues the biscuits and finally confiscated one pack. It had chicken bits in it and that was not allowed. He also called 'muruku' flour chips which I agreed. Well how in the world do you explain what Muruku was?
Over an hour later I finally met up with Eddy and family. They jovially welcomed me, chatted the entire way to Geelong while the children enjoyed the sliced up package of chicken biscuits.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008
It's been a long week indeed where my mind's only focus was to finish all my work and prepare everything for my absence. Planning for 2 weeks is no simple task.
It's 5.02pm on my computer clock. Signaling that it's time for me to leave the office and follow up on my list of chores to finish up elsewhere. My heart feels heavy with the fear that I may forget to do something somewhere somehow. Well wishes and goodbyes are starting to pour in, and I know I really should get going.
It took me another 20 minutes before I left the office and headed to town. To photostat, to the bank, to the store. It was at the store that I chance upon the chattiest storekeeper I've ever encounter: (translated version)
(after a conversation about my Australia trip triggered by my buying a padlock)
Aunty : Not going with your boyfriend ah?
Me : Don't have boyfriend la aunty
Aunty : Not possible lah
Me : Really one
Aunty : Cannot look so high one
Me : I didn't. Nobody want me.
Aunty : Cannot be lah.
(the aunty and her husband proceeds to give me advise about the world today and not expecting too much when looking for a boyfriend. Uncle even told a long story about someone he knew while I stood holding my purchased item in one hand and a smile plastered on my face, not knowing what to do)
I finally arrived home at 6.25pm and proceeded to pack my things and put everything in order.
Credit Card. checked.
Extra batteries. checked.
almost 5 kg of people's things. checked.
After a quick dinner and shower... I pampered myself a little bit. And continued my packing...
My body is ready.
My head is ready.
But heart... are you? Many people have attempted to ready you. *takes a deep breathe*
...I think you are.
It's 9.00pm. Time to head off. One last look around my room. *looks* and here I go...
Note: i'll attempt to chronicle my journey as much as I can.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Looking at my dry skin and anxiously rubbing it with lotion
Looking into the reflection of my reddening eyes
Gently touching the huge pimple on my back
Packing my bag for a trip my heart is not ready for
One bag for me, one bag for the things i'm bringing for people
How heavy is 20kg again?
Why doesn't my heart sing for joy?
Why is it heavy and numb?
What am I missing?
Was telling Fer just recently that perhaps I've been in this "work, focus, persevere" mode for too long that inertia has set in and I don't know how to feel otherwise. I told Chaco that going to Australia was like a kind of dream or fantasy that you eventually wake up from because it is not real. Cos right now, I'm not sure what reality is.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Just reflecting on the last few weeks and noticing how one can get so buried in work that your whole world passed you by and your heart does little to care. Can one get so numb to that which was once important? Can life be so busy, so routine, so... so... numb that we all chase our own dreams... or what we think is our dream. Those were the days when we had no care in the world and give anything to hang out with our friends. But growing up takes the fun out of hanging out.
Frightened off by the load in the near future, one starts to become more selfish. How do you balance from being selfish and taking care of your own life? How do you balance all the demands of life when it all comes crashing in from all sides, ready to tear at whatever meat it can get? They said BUSY stands for Being Under Satan's Yoke. And rightly so. But how do you break out of it? It doesn't actually get better in time.
I'm just so glad I'm going away. Put it all behind me for two weeks. Refresh myself in God in that secret place. Maybe find myself in the process. Hopefully I'll be chronicling my journey all the way ;)
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I came across the compilation of the much hyped Book of Judas during the release of Da Vinci Code and a string of discoveries at that period of time. Discovery channel even featured the story of the discovery in great length and with much conspiracy in the air (yes I actually watched it). And now to see the book compiled and produced and sitting very suggestively on the shelf, was too much. And by one of my favored authors Jeffery Archer!
Book of Judas is a pseudepigraph that was said to be revealing the truth that the Gospels left out. It downplays the deity of Christ and creates a hero out of Judas. I couldn't help but to flip a few pages and scan the contents and claims of that document - assuming of course that the author preserved the authentic writings that were found in the original documents. It was written by the son of Judas Iscariot, Benjamin Isaachar, who claims his dad (who apparently did not hang himself) is the real hero that understood the real mission of Jesus Christ.
I couldn't help but scoff at the claims. Why? Simply because of these facts. The deity of Jesus was never a debate. The rest of the disciples acknowledge Jesus as the risen Lord and God without doubt. The council of Nicea never decided to make Jesus a God, it was widely accepted. One person raised it as a doubt (out of hundreds of people) and was instantly shot down - so yes it was recorded. For thousands of years people have been trying to disprove that Jesus is the Son of God but nothing could stop the movement which is the Church - because God's very hand is in history and because you can't stop the truth. From the early days of the apostles, believers were willing to give up everything for what they believe (their lifestyle, their money, their very life) - no one would do that for a lie, and the lie would not have lasted 2 centuries. And during those days hundreds of other letters and writings were circulating and so many of them have also been left out in the canonization of the Bible. Why not question that? Isn't it only normal for many people to write their thoughts, their opinions, their stories - true or not - along with everything that was written in those days? Why then has so much light been thrown at this one book? Because it was Judas? Because today... people like to make the bad guys not look so bad.
Let us cling on to the faith and recognize that the truth will prevail. Let us not be shaken and know that God is and will never be threatened. Let us as believers stand for the truth and be His ambassadors to speak the truth that saves - that Jesus Christ is God and He died for you and me only to conquer death and live in the hearts of men like you and me!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Over the weekend, the family went up to Klang to be a part of our cousin's wedding. Although we barely meet and have probably exchange less than 100 words with each other in our lifetime, I was happy for him. Weddings are usually happy moments when a couple pledge to start a life together - through thick and thin, through sickness and death till death do us part.
It was a grand dinner - one of those you probably see once in your lifetime. (Although for me it'll be a few times over with the size of that family) The setup and the food was really something to behold. Love the flower stands. We had double boiled shark fin soup where you can see the slices of semi transparent shark fin. (Fer will simply scream in objection) Lazy to post, pictures here.
But the highlight of the event is always the people. If not people, what else, right? Building bridges, getting contacts, catching up with the 'so where are you nows' and what have you. Besides these are blood related. You can't run away from that. And God forbid that I forget my first calling as a believer. Oh, pics of the bride and groom. (Groom's my cousin)
Say, my curls were kinda nice. After I took of the clips and they fell on my shoulders in elegant twists. Should I permanently curl them next year? Some say they make me look older and I should in no way consider this move. But they're kinda nice, aren't they?
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Recently Michio and myself attempted to write poetries and stories over Msn. It was a strange effort indeed but it worked out. The stories are totally random or perhaps it reflected something much deeper? They say that writings reflect the writer's soul and so perhaps this fantasy stories reflect two souls? Or really it's just ramblings for lack of creativity and insight.
Perhaps one day we'll write something real together. A children's story, at this rate. LOL. But till then, here are the preliminary efforts:
where does the wind blow
through the yonder
and the valleys below
Into the spirit of yesteryear
where does the sun set?
wonders the little blue fairy,
as she looks where they first met
beyond the plot of summer berry
look ahead fairy dear,
whispers the west wind,
soft rays sparkle from the wild blue yonder,
at a distance the sun retires within
as the night falls and creatures awake
the stars begin to dance in the sky
dear fairy the day is yours to make
so long as tomorrow never die
The Lion and the Squirrel
it wasn’t everyday tat u see a lion who would roar at the moon, at the stars and at everything above, as if cursing the heavens tat was above him. And because of that, all the other animals stayed away. Some say it was the lion himself who kept them away. Some blamed the other animals who dared not befriend the lion.
Yet there was one little squirrel who's secret desire to befriend the lion. She would secretly hop from tree to tree at midnight, especially during a full moon just to watch him arch his back gazing at the full moon letting out the loudest roar that would make the whole forest tremble.
Now squirrel was no ordinary squirrel. She was not afraid of his thunderous roar. She saw beyond this fearsome sound to the cries of anguish buried deep within. Lion wasn't angy. he was sad. There was not quite another animal like squirrel, who could see beyond the natural.
One starry night, when the moon shone its brightest, lion stood once again on the ledge of the hill, overlooking the deep gulf below. His paws clutched the earth beneath, his spines shook as he look above. And once again, squirrel quietly hops between the tall grass and scattering bushes. She tried to be as quiet as possible, afraid of this carnivorous creature she was, yet at the same time her curiosity got the better of her. This time hoping that the thunderous roar of lion would cover the sounds of her scattering, she moved a little closer, and closer. As each cry seemed more visibly clear to her tiny ears, the harder she felt the beating of her heart. Yet brave little squirrel didnt let the fear and the drums of her heart overwhelm her, and closer she did get to lion.
Oh, only heaven would know what would happen next. For this was the day when the star of the north shone the brightest. It was the star of hope and the star of dreams. So bright was it, that Lion stop short in his roar. So sudden did he stop, the Squirrel did not have time to stop. And it was at that split moment that Lion heard the scampering only a few feet from where he stood. He swung around for the first time, not in anger, but in sheer shock. Their eyes met, as Squirrel froze in fright.
so the small and the big stared face to face. eye to eye. And a smile swept across their faces and they broke into laughter. And so a new friendship has begun
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Warning: This blog could get boring for some of you.
Have you heard the stories of ancient Asia Minor, today known as Western Turkey? They say history is a series of drama and it sure is. The things people do. And you begin to realize the truth in Ecclesiastes: There's nothing new under the sun. What is has been before.
But looking at history and the beauty of culture and the dramas of the past, there is a certain lure and a change of perspective on that one word I used to abhor - history. And suddenly Turkey seems so enchanting. One day I must visit the ancient ruins of Asia Minor. The streets of Smyrna, the underground aqueducts of Laodicea, the acopolis of Sardis, the altar of Zeus in Pergamum, the medical halls of Philadelphia, and so on. For some pictures of archaeological sites in Turkey, click here. Click on the side menu to select your sites.
One of the steepest theater in Asia and the temple of Ascleupius (the God of healing).
The people Philadelphia was so loyal to Rome that when the Roman soldiers were failing in a certain war, they stripped clothes from their own back to clothe them. The people in Laodicea were so rich that they used their own finance to rebuilt their city after an earthquake devastated it. Smyrna was well known for its city's beauty so much so the people lived like gods and goddesses. It'll be interesting to stand over the ridges of Sardis and overlook the second lower city and into the Mediterranean Sea.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
This is possibly the last of Saturday morning climbs up the hill as our team leader ETC, no longer is able to go due to work commitments. And this may very well also be our first public holiday morning climbs.
And to commemorate this first and last climb, we had many first timers.